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Talent Dividend : Innovation & Job News

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Commons on Champa helped create 47 companies

The Commons on Champa supported 63 entrepreneurs founding 47 companies in its new nine-week business development accelerator program, resulting in ore than 60 new jobs in downtown Denver, according to a report from the Downtown Denver Partnership.

The Commons on Champa is a nationally recognized public entrepreneurship center led by the Downtown Denver Partnership. Its business development accelerator program is called CO.Starters at The Commons.

The 2017-2018 “Commons Impact Report: Another Year at the Intersection of Risk & Reward” features many entrepreneurs who leveraged The Commons programs to develop their businesses in 2017-1018, including Sarah Tuneberg, co-founder and CEO of distaster recovery technology company Geospiza. Tuneberg says the connections she made at The Commons led to her team’s successful application to Techstars, a global accelerator for technology startups where Geospiza attracted the clients and investors she needed to scale the company.

“The CO.Starters at The Commons program took our product from so-so to incredible,” Tuneberg says.

The report also revealed that more than 400 volunteers provided 4,900 volunteers with 2,250 hours of training, counsel, advice and mentorship in the last year at The Commons on Champa, according to the report.

Nearly 30 million Americans are running businesses today, and reports indicate our metropolitan area consistently ranks among the top 10 regions for startup activity, said Jacqui Dietrich, manager of The Commons program.

“Organizations and individuals are increasingly interested in achieving economic and community impact through entrepreneurship,” Dietrich said. “With young companies driving job and wealth creation and economic growth in our region, the Commons serves as a central point of access to the personal, business, financial and community support that entrepreneurs need. We are working to improve the local environment for entrepreneurs to achieve higher rates of startup success and make Denver No. 1 in entrepreneurship.”

 

The 7 lucky startups getting a helping hand from the city

Seven Denver startups have been selected to participate in the city’s ScaleUp Network, an intensive six-month training program that helps proven but fledgling companies catapult to their next stage of growth.

The companies chosen for the program, now in its second year, are Altius Farms, Bold Betties, Ensight Energy Consulting, Maxwell Financial, Nokero, Orderly Health and Overwatch ID. The companies were all referred to the program upon graduation from a diverse set of business startup accelerators, and each firm has demonstrated the potential to garner capital investment and add jobs.

“Denver is proud to work with our startup and accelerator communities to hand-select enterprises that are positioned for growth, funding expansion and job creation,” says Turid Nagel-Casebolt, director of business development for the Denver Office of Economic Development (OED). “We’re building on last year’s ScaleUp Network, with training and key connections that is matched beautifully by the peer-to-peer mentoring among the founders themselves.”

The 2018 group of companies begins its curriculum knowing that the 2017 class is enjoying significant success in equity raises, obtaining other financing and leveraging critical connections. Leaders from the 2017 group have pledged to continue supporting each other in addition to actively guiding the 2018 class on the path to second-stage growth.
 

Home Builders Association to host Innovation Summit

The Home Builders Association of Metro Denver will host its first HBA Innovation Summit in February.

The event, which is open to the public, will feature speakers focused on driving change and innovation in Colorado’s home building industry to better serve the needs of future new homebuyers and consumers looking to remodel their homes. The summit is from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Seawell Ballroom.

“As we start the new year, the HBA Innovations Summit will enable both the industry and the customers we serve to think about home building in new ways,” says Jeff Whiton, CEO and executive vice president of the Home Builders Association of Metro Denver. “Many of our member organizations have already achieved national recognition for their creative approaches to design and marketing, and we hope to continue to lead the industry with events like the Innovation Summit.”

the theme for the event, “Leadership Through Change,” will offer a timely, relevant and expansive view of how builders developers, remodelers, architects, mortgage lenders, title companies, subcontractors, suppliers and service providers can embrace change in their own organizations to meet the evolving needs of home buyers. Speakers for the event will be announced this month.

Tickets to the HBA Innovations Summit are $95 for HBA members and $150 for non-members. To register, visit www.hbadenver.com and click on Home Builder Events. Non-members may register by clicking the “login/register” button and following the instructions for non-members.

Interactive artwork unveiled at Levitt Pavilion

The latest addition to the city of Denver’s public art collection was dedicated July 20 as part of the grand opening celebration for the newly built Levitt Pavilion Denver at Ruby Hill Park.

“Sky Song” by Colorado artists Nick Geurts and Ryan Elmendorf is a two-part interactive sculpture that blends light and sound through interaction with the viewer and even the sky above. 

Comprised of mirror-polished stainless steel, “Sky Song” invites viewers to create music by pressing any combination of 33 buttons on an eight-foot-tall sculpture on the plaza. The kiosk is linked to its companion piece 30 feet away on the building’s facade. During concerts at Levitt Pavilion, the interactive function transitions from sound to light. With 25 lights and bells, “Sky Song” is an engaging public artwork.

The Levitt Pavilion is programmed, managed and supported by Friends of Levitt Paviolion Denver, a local nonprofit dedicated to building community through music. 

Upcoming concerts include:
  • July 23: The Stone Foxes
  • Aug. 3: The Suffers
  • Aug. 4: John Fulbright
  • Aug. 5: The Reminders co-headline with Fed Rez
  • Aug. 6: Rocky Dawuni with the Bunny Gang
  • Aug. 9: Hippo Campus with Slow Caves and Corsicana
  • Aug. 10: The Dustbowl Revival with Charley Crockett
  • Aug. 13: The Band of Heathens with Blake Brown & The American Dust Choir
  • Aug. 17 The Haunted Windchimes and Edison
  • Aug. 18: My Body Sings Electric and Chemistry Club
  • Aug. 19: Smooth Hound Smith with Anthony Ruptak & The Midnight Friends
  • Aug. 24: Gaby Moreno
  • Aug. 25: Mariachi Sol de Mi Tierra with Fiesta Colorado Dance Company
  • Aug. 26: Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe
  • Aug. 27: New Breed Brass Band with Denver Municipal Band
  • Aug. 30: Ripe with Chris Daniels & the Kings with Freddi Gowdy
  • Aug. 31: Inspector with Izcalli
The public is invited to bring their picnic blankets and lawn chairs to the free concerts. There also will be a handful of ticketed shows featuring artists like UB40 and 311.

Denver’s Magpie Supply among winners of $25k at 4th Go Code Colorado pitch competition

Magpie Supply was one of the three companies that won the annual Go Code Colorado pitch competition. The company, which shows historic farmers’ market prices to farmers to help them find new markets, won $25,000, as well as a trip to the AT&T Foundry and a opportunity to pitch at Techstars and Boomtown.

Like all Go Code Colorado participants, Magpie Supply harnessed the power of public data. In this case, the company mapped prices farmers were able to charge at farmers markets throughout Colorado. The company also plans to develop a feature to help small farmers combat the cost of transporting goods. 

“This idea is a spin-off from a business concept I worked on last year with a Go Code Colorado team,” explains Daniel Ritchie of Magpie Supply. “Our team has worked hard to identify the real needs and concerns for Colorado farmers to develop a truly valuable tool to get more produce to market.”

Magpie wasn’t the only winner at the competition this year. Judges selected three of the 10 finalists to win a $25,000 contract with the state. The other two winners were Drip, from Colorado Springs, and Hud Buddy, from Fort Collins. Drip is a tool that helps with water analysis, including well and water quality information and Hud Buddy allows for simplified noise analysis for HUD residential developments.

“I continue to be impressed by the creativity and collaboration of the Go Code Colorado teams,” says Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams. “Teams continue to show the value of public data if we can get it into the hands of innovative and entrepreneurial people who have a different perspective on how to use it.” 

Denver Peak Academy’s employee program saves city $22.5M over 5 years

Called the “School of Innovation” by Fast Company Magazine, Denver Peak Academy has helped the city’s employees save the city $22.5 million over the past five years, and is on track to save it $5 million this year. The city said that for every $1 spent on the program, it’s saved the City and County of Denver $5.

The academy was launched in 2011 by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock during a budget shortfall. The academy has trained 6,500 employees and led to 2,300 employee-led innovations ranging from reducing the time it takes to obtain a business license to 20 minutes rather than two hours and cutting the time of a DMV visit to 20 minutes from the 80 minutes it previously could have taken. 

“Through innovative thinking, employees are now able to do more with less, while bettering our customer-experience,” Hancock says. “Peak has become a revered national model adopted by some of the largest municipalities in the country, and we look forward to continuing our forward progress here in Denver.” 

The academy is a four-and-a-half day curriculum that includes problem solving and behavioral economics allowing the voluntary attendees to examine inefficiencies and speed up work processes. Since the program launched it’s been adopted by over 150 cities across the country and globe. The academy said that includes Brussels, Belgium; Ottawa, Canada; San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Kansas City and others.

“Denver Peak Academy provides employees with the tools to be a catalyst of positive transformation. As a result, our employees  continue to build Denver into the best city in the world,” says Denver Peak Academy’s Director Brian Elms. “We are excited and inspired that other cities are adopting Denver Peak Academy principles to empower their employees to improve their cities as well.”

Denver launches JumpStart Academy for startups

Denver is further cementing its reputation as a capital for startups with its recently launched JumpStart Academy. The academy is focused on second-stage growth, to help startups reach their next stages. 

The new academy is aimed at training, mentoring and providing opportunities for entrepreneurs. It builds on the other startup tools and resources Denver offers including the Commons on ChampaDenver Capital Matrix, Denver Startup Week and Denver Venture Capital Report.

The academy's initial class includes six local founders with the potential to attract capital and create jobs. Each of the companies in the inaugural class, including HyprLoco, LockState, Maria Empanada, Sugarwish and TurtleWise, have graduated from local incubator or business accelerator programs.

The new academy was launched by the Denver Office of Economic Development, the University of Denver's Project X-ITE and Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network. "With the powerful expertise of both the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network and Project X-ITE to draw on, we're listening to these firms, and responding to their needs with a curated curriculum that positions them for their next round of funding," explains OED Executive Director Paul Washington.

During their six-month training at the academy the founders will receive customized training, mentoring and introductions to help their startups grow.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Gates rejoins Innovators Colorado

Gates Corporation has rejoined Innovators Colorado (iiCO), a network of Colorado-based companies working together to solve each others' problems and launch new companies and services to meet members' needs. The organization is the first regional chapter of Innovators International.

The Colorado chapter of Innovators International has already launched a company called iiFund, explains Thomas Knoll, president of Innovators Colorado. "It's a corporate venture capital fund created to help our members acquire and license new technologies." He adds, "We're in the process of creating several new companies that will acquire and license new technologies for our members. These companies will serve our members' strategic and financial interests."

Gates Corporation has renewed its membership to bolster its efforts to build the most cutting-edge growth engine in their industry. "Gates is interested in creating a new innovation management system that allows new ideas, products and services to move through their company more rapidly while producing better results," Knoll explains.

The organization's members include chief innovation officers and meet on a quarterly basis to discuss solutions to each other's innovation challenges. They also share venture capital and consulting services aimed at building innovation engines.

"The marketplace requires a relentless pace of continuous innovation and by joining forces with other large, innovative organizations we are better positioned to ensure our competitiveness," says Tom Pitstick, Gates SVP of Innovation.  "Innovators Colorado plays a critical role in helping Gates Corp build a reliable innovation department -- an engine for our company's growth."

Knoll says that Gates will use its partnership to help the company create a new innovation management system. The system will help new ideas, move through the company rapidly to create new products and services.

The group will have its next meeting at Colorado's CableLabs -- a member of iiCO -- on Feb. 23.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Commons on Champa looks back on its first full year at new campus

The Commons on Champa, Denver's center for entrepreneurship and innovation, recently released its 2016 impact report. The center reports that since launching its campus on the eponymous Champa St. downtown in 2015, it's served more than 23,000 community members.

The center has served those entrepreneurs through 450 programs and events it's hosted with 145 partners. That includes hosting 19 Meetup groups per month. The center also plays an integral part in Denver Startup Week and has hosted 4,000 people at events during that entrepreneurship juggernaut.

The bulk of those programs, 275, were hosted in 2016, according to the Commons. The programs were presented by 120 partners and 85 percent of them were free to the public. Through Denver's Office of Economic Development, the Commons also offered 326 hours of one on one assistance in helping people launch startups. 

To further support growth in Denver's innovator space, the Commons launched the InCommons Mentorship Program in 2016. That program connects entrepreneurs, innovators and disruptors with business leaders, innovators, and investors. It allows them to attend monthly mentor hours at the campus, join industry specific and subject matter forums and share online resources. It also gains them access to online, collaborative goal-setting tools. The offering already includes 240 members and 80 mentors and financial support from 20 partners.

As a capstone to its efforts in 2016, the Commons on Champa was awarded an Inclusion Challenge grant from the Kauffman Foundation. The campus will use the $400,000 grant in 2017 and 2018 to expand entrepreneurship focused on the inclusion of military veterans, women, people of color and new American citizens. It offers eight-week programs to help participants launch their businesses.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

COIN announces new direction

The Colorado Innovation Network (COIN) is announcing a new focus and direction to place Colorado at the forefront of the civic disruption conversation. The organization will concentrate on public sector innovation.

COIN is a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade with the mission of advancing connections in the global innovation ecosystem to place Colorado as a leader in innovation. As such, it is pivoting toward more public sector innovation and will officially launch the new focus in early November. 

The public-private partnership has a physical and virtual global network of more than 2,000 people that support the state's innovation ecosystem, its growing companies, and are helping to create jobs in the state. 

The new focus will be announced at the Reverb Conference, hosted by COIN and Sound Ventures on Nov. 3. At the conference, COIN and partners also will announce the 2nd Imagine Colorado Innovation Challenge. The conference is aimed at matching public sector changemakers with entrepreneurs and innovators who are developing technologies ideal for the government.

The organization also is committed to expanding its actions with a new digital platform. COIN is expanding its reach through blogs, podcasts and video.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

New grant will help 350 people in Denver advance in retail careers

Thanks to a new $422,652 grant, 350 people in Denver will have a chance to get better employment opportunities in the retail industry. The city will use the grant to focus on empowering disadvantaged adults and working-age youth through a variety of job training programs.

"The majority of program funds will go toward getting individuals gainfully employed," says Denver Office of Economic Development Spokesperson Derek Woodbury. "We are also targeting efforts to assist employed retail workers with moving up the career ladder." We do not have a targeted figure for these advancements.

Denver's Workforce Development Board will use the funding to create a retail sector partnership with employers and education providers to offer people a chance to advance their careers through training experiences. Training will include formal education, certification training, on-the-job training and paid work experiences. The grant will also promote advancement opportunities in the retail sector.

While the grant is a standalone grant, it's not all the city is doing to help encourage workforce development. "We do expect to leverage other federal workforce development funding streams in order to co-enroll participants in other workforce services training and employment programs," Woodbury explains.

The grant was awarded part of a larger, $10.9 million award to The Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership from the Walmart Foundation aimed at creating new models of career services in the retail sector. Of the 10 cities to which the partnership awarded grants, Denver won the most.

While the Walmart Foundation is funding the grant, Denver won't be providing any direct services to the company. "The grant agreement prohibits our office from providing workforce services to Walmart or any of its subsidiaries under this funding," Woodbury says.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Denver Startup Week kicks off schedule of more than 250 events

This year's Denver Startup Week kicked off Monday morning with a breakfast headlined by former Dallas Cowboys fullback and Under Armor co-founder Ryan Wood. Also the owner of Sweetwood Cattle Company in Steamboat Springs, Wood was flanked by other entrepreneurs, including Eddie Kim of Gusto, Lee Mayer of Havenly and Chris Terrill of HomeAdvisor.

During his keynote at the breakfast Wood opined on his career(s) moving from football to athletic undergarments to beef jerky. Regarding Under Armor, he said: "We went from just a product to brand almost overnight." To get there, however, took a lot of work, a lot of face time and a lot of travel, he said. "We took it to a broader audience, team sports is what we knew and we saw the benefit of what these types of fabrics and this fit could make for sports."

The NCAA, the NFL and Major League Baseball "were our main targets. We went after those guys with great intensity," Wood said. "You've got to be creative, you've got to be different and you need to figure out a way to differentiate yourself and your strategy from larger competitors."

Following the breakfast, the Downtown Denver Partnership released the Downtown Denver Startup Report, which found, among other things, that in the last year alone 56 startups in Denver have raised more than $420 million in venture capital in the last year. 

"The growth of tech startups is strong, both in terms of number of new businesses and job creation," said Tami Door, Downtown Denver Partnership CEO. With events like startup week and support and services including The Commons of Champa, the organization is helping startups as they strive to become the next Under Armor. "We are focused on providing access to free resources and education to further establish Downtown Denver as the leading place for businesses to succeed."

The report looks at how startups are changing the employment sector in Denver. The city now has 664 startups, with 165 launching in 2015 alone. Startup growth is strongest in the technology sector, as startups represent 10 percent of all companies downtown and employ 4,508 people.

People can register online to attend more than 250 events or go to Basecamp hosted by Chase at 1515 Arapahoe St.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Linux Foundation's MesosCon coming to Denver

Apache Mesos is the data center management system that's running everything from Siri to eBay, to CERN and a host of other technologies.The Linux Foundation will host MesosCon, a conference about Apache Mesos, at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center on June 1-2.

The conference is focussed on users and developers and is hosted to share and learn about the project, which was originally developed at the University of California Berkeley. Sessions over the two-day conference will focus on the Mesos core, the ecosystem that's developed around the project and related technologies.

This year's keynote speakers include Dr. Ken Birman, professor of computer science at Cornell University, and Matei Zaharia, CTO of Databricks, creator of Apache Spark and assistant professor of computer science at MIT. In all the conference will have more than 50 sessions and will feature talks from representatives from Netflix, Uber and Twitter.

Birman's keynote will focus on why the Internet of Things has been hard to integrate with cloud computing. "I'll start by describing work Cornell has done over the past few years on creating a cloud platform to host 'smart power grid' applications," Birman says. In this pursuit the school has developed new rack-scale management solutions for round the clock applications, real-time storage solutions and replication of information with ultra-fast updates -- all of which is open-source.

The conference will include an evening reception, sponsor technical showcase and a hackathon sponsored by Cisco. The prize and focus of the hackathon have yet to be named. The Linux Foundation is enabling mass innovation through open source software. The full schedule of sessions can be viewed here.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


SkillStore launches skills training app with free forever access for early users

Denver's SkillStore has launched its mobile app, which uses social-learning and interactive learning to help people learn and practice new skills. The app and site are focused on leadership, communications, and management skills, aimed at reducing the use of ineffective corporate training. To celebrate its launch SkillStore is offering popular free-forever modules for those who register for the service by March 31.

The company has worked with Western Union, SAP and Comcast of the past nine months to build its services and has now deployed it in more than 40 countries. "What separates SkillStore is that, unlike other online learning solutions that focus on providing content, SkillStore enables live video practice with peer feedback,” says Joshua Craver, vice president of Talent Management at Western Union. "People don't just watch videos and take quizzes -- they practice with each other through the app. Apart from being a more effective way to build critical skills, this helps Western Union managers in countries around the world feel more connected with each other -- as they learn together.”

Skillstore's learning methods are aimed at reducing wasted spending on corporate training for soft and leadership skills. The company refers to studies showing that roughly 80 percent of such training is currently wasted.

"Today's training methods -- both in-person and online -- have severe shortcomings," asserts Srikant Vasan, SkillStore cofounder and CEO. "SkillStore offers a better way -- built on solid learning science principles to enable active learning -- with live video practice and peer feedback."

The company's services are designed to be easy to use and to access. The app is accessible over the internet and on mobile devices.

SkillStore enables active, experiential learning through interactive video-based practice with peers to build leadership, communications, and management skills that is both effective and scalable. Users in over 40 countries access SkillStore from their laptops, smartphones, or tablets for a variety of soft skills training.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.


General Assembly opening new tech training campus in RiNo

General Assembly is opening its 15th location in Denver. The institution will host a launch party on March 3 at its newest campus at Industry, located at 3001 Brighton Blvd. in RiNo.

General Assembly was founded in 2011 in New York City with a mission of empowering people to do what they love. It offers immersive programs, long-form courses, and classes and workshops. The programs focus on IT, web development and business fundamentals.

The company also offers ongoing training to develop talent internally. "With Denver and Boulder area startups flush with population and economic growth, larger companies are also investing in talent to remain competitive," a statement from General Assembly explains.

Since launching in the Big Apple, it's opened locations across the country and as far away as Australia.

To celebrate its newest location in Denver the institute is hosting an evening of drinks, hors d'oeuvres, and networking with the GA team and our amazing guests. “We'll also host an exciting panel discussion about today's fastest growing, most in-demand careers and how to break into them,” reads a statement on the company's website.

The panel will include Kelly Brough, CEO of Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce; Brady Welsh, director of Leasing & Development of Industry and Scott Kirkpatrick, president of General Assembly. According to General Assembly the panel will discuss how today's most in-demand skills and job opportunities will affect Denver's growth.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

28 Talent Dividend Articles | Page: | Show All
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